by Peter Kallin
Most students of philosophy are familiar with French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes. The bedrock of his philosophical principles is, "I think, therefore, I am," first expressed in French, "Je pense, donc je suis," and published mostly in Latin, "Cogito, ergo sum." I am actually an adherent of his less well known older brother, Pierre Descartes, whose philosophy is usually expressed as, "Je pêche, donc je suis," or "I fish, therefore I am." My friends know that I will fish for virtually anything that swims in fresh or salt water at virtually any time, in all kinds of weather. I especially love to fish at dawn or dusk for big trout or salmon using one of my fly rods.
Last Friday, I was in meetings most of the day and got home late in the afternoon. I grabbed a quick sandwich and headed to the lake, a couple hours before sunset. The lake was like glass and I could see schools of landlocked alewives breaking the surface as they were being chased by bigger fish from below. I headed for one of the schools and cut the motor to drift to within forty feet or so. I cast a white zonker streamer fly into the middle of the school and almost instantly connected with a big fish. Fifteen minutes later I netted a large brown trout. I put it in my cooler and headed to Day's store to get some ice and have the fish weighed on their certified scale. It turned out to be 21 inches and weighed 4.8 pounds. Kerry Oliver took my picture with the fish and I headed back out to the lake.
As I headed out I saw another school of fish near where the spillway from Great Pond enters Long Pond. I again cast my fly into the swirling school and immediately tied into another large fish, which turned out to be another large, hook-jawed, male Brown trout even larger than the first. I measured it at 24½ inches. I looked over towards Day's and saw Kerry in the back with one of his daughters and a couple of other young women. I kept the fish in my net in the water and slowly motored towards the dock. As I got close, I called to Kerry, "Do you still have your camera with you?" He asked, "Why? Do you want another picture of that same fish?" I told him that I had another one, even bigger than the first.
He came over to the dock and took a picture of the fish in the net, which was at least 6, perhaps, 7 pounds. We released "Walter" and he swam slowly around for a bit at the surface before catching his breath and swimming briskly off to the cheers of the onlookers. Those who don't know "Walter" need to watch On Golden Pond again. I headed back out and cast to the same school of baitfish near the dam outlet. In the next half hour I caught and released four smallmouth bass in the 3-4 pound range. The fun ended abruptly when a large pike grabbed my fly. He still has it.
The only thing more fun than catching big fish by myself is catching fish with my grandkids, ages 9 and 10. They got out of school on Monday and I picked them up on Tuesday evening for a day of fishing on Wednesday. The lake was calm when we started and windy when we finished about 5 hours later. The action was fast and the kids caught 23 smallmouth bass, many in the 2 to 3 pound class. My grandson caught all his on the fly rod he got for his tenth birthday last fall, using a white zonker streamer fly. Maddie used her spincasting rod with a purple and silver crankbait that looked like an alewife. She even got one on her brother's fly rod, when he handed it to her so he could net a fish that I was bringing in.
As he was netting my fish, another hit the fly that was trailing behind the boat as we drifted with the wind over a reef. She successfully brought it in much to her brother's chagrin, although he graciously netted hers as well.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.